I had made my way to my favorite Santiago restaurant, Tarara, intending to enjoy my meal and take a leisurely walk back to the apartment when a group of six pilgrims walked in for dinner.
I could tell by their smiles that they had arrived from their Camino and joy could be seen in their smiles.
I congratulated them and after a few exchanges they invited me to join them. It was a fun evening of stories, laughs and smiles.
There is an strange but wonderful connection that pilgrims share which facilitates such encounters. Many mentioned that meeting other pilgrims was one the highlight of their journey.
This type of open communication seldom happens on day to day life, or at least this has been my experience. The Camino in itself foster the connection to other simply by its nature.
We often rest in albergues which house anywhere from a dozen to hundreds of pilgrims. We often share meals in groups and the walking itself is not done in a secluded way.
We are constantly surrounded by others and although some could meander through their journey alone, I would say most of us do interact with others.
I’ve learned that although language can be a barrier, it does not exclude good communication as there are many ways to shared ideas regardless of language.
As time goes on, many find that starting a conversation can happen with a simple smile, a nod or a buen Camino.
Tonight was one of those special moments when united by a common experience (the Camino) but enthralled by our respective points of view or journeys we became a unit. A unified group made up of pilgrims of distinct backgrounds, homelands and age assembled and connected, even for a short period of time.
We all walk away that much richer in joy from spending those few hours together. I suspect (although I would like to try) that connecting in such a way would be challenging in our day to day lives unless we had a common thread that could tie us all together.
Regardless of the dynamics at play, I value each and every time this happens. It’s one of my biggest joy and I hope somehow I can replicate these types of connections outside the Camino world.
Tonight I left the table with a big smile and a strong appreciation for those six pilgrims who lightened my evening!
Cheers from Santiago